Blog post by Christina Lenz and Sofie Wennström. Read part 1 here.
Why we do peer review the way we do
The peer review process is famous (or infamous?) for taking a long of time and to include a significant effort for all involved – the authors, editors and the editorial boards alike. The purpose of this is however to give our authors the best possible quality outcome for their works. We do believe i.e. that a qualitative book proposal and review of such, could be a good parameter of a high qualitative manuscript.
The peer review process applied for Stockholm University Press book projects is sometimes doubted due to the double processing of both proposals and full manuscript, which for some people seems like extra difficult to get through. There’s of course an eagerness to get the contract signed in order to submit their final manuscript, and authors therefore often ask us about more details when their proposal is waiting for comments.
However, we often find that the comments submitted about book proposal are indeed helpful for the authors strive to write the best book or manuscript possible. From the start they get response on what they can add, remove, elaborate or shorten. This process also supports the editorial boards when their recommendations publication to the Publishing Committee.
The recognition for reviewers in this process would still have to be verified by the Editorial Board upon request for each subject area for double-blind processes, but we do have projects where the list of reviewers will be published together with the final book. As this seems to be a welcome addition to the process, we will offer this as an option for all book projects with the discretion of the reviewers, authors and the Editorial Board.
How can we improve our peer review process?
We have to respect all parties involved in the process as well as the integrity of the author, and there are therefore a number of administrative systems and processes in place to manage this. However, as a publisher, we can strive to shorten the review time and administration time as much as possible, in the interest of our authors and editorial boards. This is done by regular status checks of our system data, and kind reminders about deadlines.
For journals, a lot of the responsibility for timely review lies with the Editors, who work independently in their respective OJS platforms. For book projects, we introduced a similar online system for management of the peer review process. An open source platform called RUA in short, built by our service partner Ubiquity Press.
The quality of the reviews submitted is also important, and we are cautious to not compromise quality before speed by adding too much pressure on reviewers. In order to achieve this, we could improve our communication with reviewers and make sure that we tell them how grateful we are for all the time and effort they spend on their work, but also make sure that the time frames suggested for submission of comments is reasonable. For example, we offer reviewers a print copy of the book they have reviewed if and when the final version is published.
In order to improve routines for recognition for reviewers, we will also improve routines to further encourage users to register their ORCiD’number in their user profile, to prepare for metadata to be sent to systems that harvest such data. We will also update our instructions to encourage reviewers to add the connection to Stockholm University Press in other tools or CV collections.
The openness is a key factor to give more recognition for review. We also believe that more and/or better tools for recognition should be developed among publishers, to ensure that reviewers can easily add verified data about this to their CV systems or ORCiD page. This could serve as a motivational factor to continue to work with qualified reviews, and to use this experience to further a career and to create better science together.
Similar discussions are going in this week, i.e. in The Scholarly Kitchen.
Do you have any thoughts or want to contribute with your thoughts on Peer Review? Please leave a comment.